Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In my previous posts I talked about the anniversary weekend I had with Carlton. Well, I now have time to share what exactly happened! Friday consisted of him driving to Athens, we ate dinner, bought groceries...boring stuff! Sunday was church and laying around until he had to drive home. SATURDAY was the absolute best day ever. We planned it perfectly and I couldn't have asked for anything better. (Well, maybe nix the super cold wind gusts.)

I woke up earlier than him because I really wanted to bake him breakfast. I'm telling you, our tastes in food are completely different so I tried to accomodate. :)
I decided to make blueberry muffins and used this recipe. They smelled amazing and looked even better. moist blueberry..ish?
I wanted to balance his love for blueberry muffins with my love for healthy breakfasts. The immediate product was pretty good. I liked the texture the applesauce lent to the muffin and it was perfect when warm. I even put a dollop of greek yogurt on top and THAT really took it over the edge. :) They really aren't the best the next day so I recommend fixing them for a large crowd (or a couple of hungry people). Don't worry, you can have a couple - they're good for you. ;)

The next part of our day would be spent in Atlanta! We decided to go to the Georgia Aquarium because Carlton loves anything in water (he's a certified diver, loves to fish, and would be at the beach for the rest of his life if he could) and I have never been. We were both really excited and even though it was kind of cold, we took our time going into the aquarium. After eating lunch, I got some coffee (always) and we sat in the Olympic Centennial Park. It was SUCH a beautiful day and I could not believe how picturesque it was. Little boys were having races running down hills, other couples were lying in the grass, and colorful kites were everywhere. I wish I had a picture to do it justice, but we were too busy taking fun pictures of ourselves. ;)

I apologize for the story in pictures but it was hard to even narrow it down to these. haha Hopefully whoever sees these will enjoy!

After we played around in the park we realized we needed to get on in that aquarium!

Warning: I am about to get very excited.

OH. MY. GOSH. The Georgia Aquarium must be some kind of mandatory item on the bucket list of the WORLD. It was so cool, entertaining, educational, and uhmazing!

I took way too many pictures and acted way too much like a kid but that was the norm in this place. I saw dragonfish, seahorses, whale sharks, beluga whales, sea otters, manta rays, DORY! It was fantastic and it was so great to enjoy it with Carlton who loved it with just as much enthusiasm.

This was the first part we breaktaking.

All Carlton would talk about last week was the Jewfish. So, I had to let him take a picture with one.

This was the the Coral Reef section. I loved how colorful it was!

The beluga whale! I almost got a stuffed animal version because I love how sweet and angelic they look (albiet HUGE).

I swear I was one foot away from this albino foot of glass ;)

I honestly think this part of the aquarium was made to look like Finding Nemo, but Carlton informed me that was because Finding Nemo used the creatures that are often found together...meh.

I had never heard/seen this before but it's a Dragonfish! So funny!

Introverted penguin and extroverted penguin

If you look closely you can see the seahorses!

Cutest things ever! How can you not love a sleepy sea otter?
Needless to say, Carlton and I had so much fun!

By the time we got back to my apartment, we were prettyyyy hungry. I decided previously we should make pizza so we could customize ours to meet our taste.

As you can see, we have very different opinions on what makes a good pizza. ;) His had unbelievable amounts of mozzerella cheese (some of which never made it to the pizza), pepperoni, and I couldn't believe it peppers! So proud. Mine had cheese, spinach, green, red, and yellow peppers, and sun dried tomatoes.
We used Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza crust and for some reason, it just didn't work for us. I don't think our pan or our amount of toppings was best for the rather dense crust. The edges, which crisped up, we both loved but the pizza as a whole was kind of ho-hum. Thankfully, we laughed it off and were more excited about our gifts we had to give each other! (3 years baby, show the love!)

We also had salad but that was boring :)

We got each other the perfect gifts, including...THE PRINCESS BRIDE! One of my fave movies and he searched high and low for it. We watched it later that night after we made dessert.

Here. We. Go. Our shining moment as a couple...
Nutella Lava Cakes with Pumpkin Ice Cream

This was definitely an indulgence but sooo worth it.

Carlton's photography of ME making the dessert. I think I may have gotten him to crack an egg??

The secret ingredient...HELLO.

I'm very glad we made four of these before our first two were disasters...but this baby? Beautiful!
It was actually Carlton's idea to decorate them so prettily. :) He did a great job...I just melted some nutella with a little bit of vegetable oil and...a perfect sauce for our little love cakes. Voila!
I told Carlton these looked like little steaks with mashed potatoes. He wasn't amused after his decorating efforts ;)

Jack Johnson on the iPod player, pumpkin pie candle, and the best dessert ever

We were both sooo excited!
Carlton, unlike me, doesn't have the biggest sweet tooth. So when he said, "This is the best dessert I have ever had." I knew we had a winner. :) It was a great choice and you MUST try it! So easy and unmatchable. DON'T FORGET THE PUMPKIN ICE CREAM! I'm telling you.

For real. :)

Okay, this post is wayyy long but I couldn't help but share all the details! Have a great Wednesday!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

2 Weeks Feels Like Forever

So, I know I said I would post about my anniversary weekend but I want to do it justice and I just do NOT have time...

I have an accounting test Tuesday and must start studying or I just won't do well. My teacher is notorious for being a tricky tester, even saying to us the first day: "I teach like an elementary school teacher but test like a graduate level professor". Oh. Okay. THAT makes sense.

Anywho, I just wanted to make a quick note of an accomplishment I made today! For the past two weeks my hip has really been giving me problems and I haven't been able to run. I have gone through major withdrawals (CAN'T believe I'm saying that) and exercising on the elliptical just wasn't giving me the same high I get from running.

That isn't to say I don't like the elliptical. It is a great way to knock out your cardio, especially if you have old people joints like me. :) I plan to incorporate the treadmill into my workout routine but it is SO nice to not have to rely on it.

Tonight, however, I thought back on the last couple of days and realized my hip hadn't been giving me trouble. I immediately (well, after watching some lazy sunday shows) put on my tennies and headed to the gym. I got on the treadmill and planned to do 3 or so miles just to warm back up. But once I started I just couldn't get enough! It was probably a combination of not having ran in awhile and my adrenaline being so high. I ran faster than I ever have but my distance wasn't super long. I knew I didn't need to push myself too hard considering it has been two weeks.

The two weeks may have felt like forever but the 9.51 mile run for 60 minutes was worth the wait! 6.64 is a nice number :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Three Years

Wow. All I can say is wow. Today marks the three year anniversary between me and my favorite person in the whole world, my boyfriend Carlton! It makes me feel all gushy inside to think about how lucky I am. *insert love* <3

Let me tell you a little bit about this guy, so you'll be just as in love with him as I am. (ok, maybe not)
We first became "friends" when he was still dating someone else but about two months after they broke up for good. Ironically, I was the first person he called. (Maybe this should've been a sign??)
 He's always been a very big people person, and can honestly be best friends with a tree stump. I believe that's why I never read his signals because he's kind of all over the place with everyone.

Anywho, I was a senior and he was a junior in high school. We were in the same friend circle and he ACTUALLY asked me to the homecoming dance through another friend, who told me while we were ALL at Sonic together. I think back on that and omgggg that was so lame! But, I said yes because I really just wanted to have fun at my last homecoming and not be worried about impressing anyone. We were just friends, ya know?

Little did I know...
that through this whole "going to the dance together" ordeal we would eventually become a couple. I remember the night that we all went to a friend's house to watch a scary movie (maybe The Eye?) It was awful but that was the first time I realized I liked him..and it was VERY obvious to all of our friends. He just made me so happy and it was the first time I wasn't in complete control of my feelings or how I was coming off to other people.

We started to date but it was completely pressure free. We were friends first which I think is our saving grace. We liked each other as people before we became a couple. We never officially said, "let's be boyfriend and girlfriend" but on September 27, 2008, something happened that for us marked the beginning of our relationship. :)

Rather than explain how perfect we are for each other and completely nauseate you, I thought I would share some pictures that kind of documents our anniversaries. Hope you enjoy! And I can't wait to celebrate my anniversary this weekend - and to tell you guys all about it!

This was our VERY first picture together! Don't was spirit week at our high school and our group's Star Wars costumes have gone down in history.

This was our first anniversary together and I actually forced him to take this picture because it was part of his gift :)

Second anniversary! We went to Jekyll Island and had a perfect day together. I wish we could go to the beach again!
Well we haven't had our third anniversary picture yet because we don't live in the same town anymore :( But this was taken last weekend before a wedding. I'll make sure to post an update from this weekend ;)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fresh Take On: Hummus

Hummus is a controversial item, no? Some people LOVE it and some people hate it. I've always wondered which I would be...

Before I moved away from home for college I never even saw hummus at my grocery store.

I live in suburbia...Wal-Mart is about it. Publix coming soon though! Woop Woop

So what is hummus exactly?

Hummus is a Levantine Arab food dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is popular throughout the Middle East and Middle Eastern cuisine around the globe.

Why thank you Wikipedia. I can always rely on you.

Anywho, Publix became my grocery store of choice because it is literally one minute away from my apartment. Publix has a hugeee variety of it (although Sabra is the only brand) and all of them seemed very intriguing. Because of how pricey it was I always passed it by.
When I started reading food blogs indepthly, I noticed how popular hummus was among people who had cut out meat from their diets.

Huh. Why could that be?
Let's ask Wikipedia!

Hummus is high in iron and Vitamin C and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6.The chickpeas make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini consists mostly of sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the chickpeas. Depending on the recipe, hummus carries varying amounts of monounsaturated fat. Hummus is useful in vegetarian and vegan diets; like other combinations of grains and pulses, it serves as a complete protein when eaten with bread.

Aha! Such a reliable source, no?

Animal derived foods provide complete proteins to humans, something we NEED because they have all the amino acids our bodies need to function in the best way. So when a vegetarian or vegan eliminates most or all of the complete proteins in their diet, it has to be made up somewhere else.

Hummus to the rescue!!

It has been two weeks that I have gone without meat, and when I found out the benefits of eating this odd dip I finally caved in and bought some.
The above picture shows the $3.99 container I purchased. I went with the classic flavor because I really wanted to get an idea of how it tasted.

On the one minute drive home I prayed that I would like it! How could I survive without this beloved food in the veggie/vegan world??
I ran in the door and threw my groceries on the counter. Immediately opening the container I stuck my finger on the sealer wrap and got a quick preliminary taste.

Hmm...not what I expected...hmmm...I LIKE IT!

Oh happy day it was delicious! I loved the salty, beany texture even more when I dipped these puppies in it.

These little petite pitas are PERFECT little pillows to scoop up and hug your scrumdiddlyumptious hummus from heaven!

Mmmmm see?? (Not the messy counter full of bags of food. I already explained myself!)
Yummy pillowy whole wheat bread + hummus from heaven = a happy Alex

It's always a great idea to try new things..especially when they have amazing health benefits!
 I can't wait to try the different flavors of hummus. I have my eye on that roasted red pepper one...

Friday, September 23, 2011

The first post...dum dum dum.

Well, I finally did it. The blog.

My main purpose in this is to share my stories about living a healthy lifestyle as a new found vegetarian and how I balance it with exercise and being in college (yikes). It won't be easy, but often times good things rarely are :). I hope to help others make decisions about healthy choices like some blogs did for me! (Especially this gal and this lady). I've looked at plenty of blogs and each one has given me a little more knowledge, a little more courage, and a little more desire to create my own site that can maybe do the same thing for someone else. It has definitely been a life changer and I can't wait to share my journey!

NOW. I can't wait to tell you about what finally kicked me in the butt to start this specific type of blog. It's actually 2:30 in the morning and I'm at home for the weekend to go to my cousin's wedding. So this is real stuff I'm spilling, guys. For the past two weeks, I've been starting a journey to being a vegetarian. I'd really like to go into detail about why, but it will have to wait for another post. My "home" home is in a small town in the south and that just isn't ideal for someone who is attempting to cut out meat.

On a side note, I am a junior in college and a month and a half ago I moved three and a half hours away from home to go to the University of Georgia.

 I still had not told anyone really about my decision to go veggie, because it is honestly soooo controversial here. Not eating meat is like..not drinking sweet tea. You just don't do it. (I have hated tea since birth by the way. gag)

I sort of told my parents about my decision the night before and they were surprisingly not that judgemental. I knew my mom wouldn't really care as long as I was staying healthy, and my dad just commented on how amazing his turkey melt smelled. (silly pops, that is cheese and bread that smells so good!) He may be a tough sell later on, but we shall see.

Anyhow, I was going out with my boy tonight and I chose a place that I knew would have options for me. (I researched menus which I highly recommend..not only can you make sure there is something you'll like, but if you're indecisive like me you won't make your fellow eaters angry :)). I went with the veggie trio where we were at and I made a segway into the topic of my vegetarianism.
Another side note, my boy has been mine for almost three years so it is hard for me to imagine keeping anything from him. It was highly important he understood and accepted my choice.

It ended up not going the greatest and I basically became defensive and he ended up very apologetic. (Not what you want) It went exactly how I feared it would. People who don't understand my purpose. They won't let me do what I desire because it's not the norm. I'm going to be an outcast.

In my defensiveness was born a desire to explain to as many people as I can the benefits of being veggie. The exciting adventures in the kitchen to create meatless dishes that are crazy satisfying. The health benefits of things that grow out of the ground versus cut off of an animal injected with hormones (I was shocked my how many!). Not only that, the animals. I feel so much better about my life knowing I'm not taking another's to eat. I wanted to show the GOOD parts of a healthy lifestyle. It's not only about no's about making good choices! The vegetarianism is only a piece of it.

Okay, take away the dramatics and I saw my boyfriend just didn't understand. He didn't mean to hurt my feelings and the next time I bring it up, I plan to be a lot more prepared. It isn't other people who are the problem with vegetarianism, it's me! I made it into this huge thing that separated me from others, but the people who love me will always love me. Meat or no meat. They may pick on me, sometimes it may hurt my feelings, and I may have trouble finding something to eat at my southern Thanksgiving, but my lifestyle change is for me! These small troubles hardly touch the greater positive outcome of my decision.

All I can do is live my life the way I desire. God put me on this earth to do things, and I want to do them in the healthiest way possible. Now that all this explaining is done, I can start sharing how I plan to be now fresh & FANTASTIC! Healthy recipes, stories, and pics are soon to come. :)